Palgrave Macmillan £22.99; Simon & Schuster £18.99; Biteback £9.99

The British General Election of 2010, By Dennis Kavanagh & Philip Cowley
Hung Together, By Adam Boulton & Joey Jones
22 Days in May, By David Laws

History was made at the last election. And now, the coalition deal done, the truth can be told

The first Conservative prime minister in 13 years; the first Lib-Con government since 1922; the first coalition to come fresh out of a general election in a century-and-a-half. There were many big, historic political stories in 2010, but the most disturbing one is tucked away in appendix two of the standard study, The British General Election of 2010, compiled by Dennis Kavanagh and Philip Cowley. There, John Curtice, now the nation's top elections expert, reveals what a nasty little racist country Britain still is. There can be no other explanation for the fact that, allowing for all other economic and social variables, ethnic-minority candidates fielded by the major parties in largely white constituencies fared worse than their white counterparts in similar seats. In the privacy of the polling booth, too many of us will not vote for a party because the candidate is the wrong colour. That is a shaming thing.

The last general election, its predecessor "that never was" in 2007, and the formation of the coalition, left many puzzles behind. "Bigotgate", for example, was not quite the game-changer it seemed. Gordon Brown's remarks about Gillian Duffy gave us the most dramatic moment of the election but not the most important: those came in the TV debates.

Living as we are now through an episode of what might be termed "Anti-Cleggmania", it takes an effort to recall just how popular that nice Nick Clegg used to be – especially with students. The original Cleggmania was entirely a product of television, for all the Liberal Democrat leader did to propel himself into contention for Number 10 was to note down the names of his questioners, look directly into the camera and ham up his "Two old parties" lines relentlessly.

In Hung Together, with an air of satisfaction shading into smugness, Adam Boulton and Joey Jones of Sky News concur with Kavanagh et al that this was the first true television election, when TV lost its inferiority complex towards press, let alone the "new media". For Sky News journalists, long patronised by ITN and the BBC, it must have been an even sweeter moment: the credit for the innovation lies with Sky's head of news, John Ryley, who fought a dogged and initially lonely campaign. It probably started as a bit of a stunt; it ended up changing the constitution. That should more than make up for Alastair Campbell's outrageous attacks on Boulton's impartiality during their famous on-air spat. Unlike Andrew Gilligan, Boulton was rather too big a beast for Campbell to take on, though I have to register an objection to Boulton's description of Rupert Murdoch, majority proprietor of Sky, as a "soft target". (Last I looked, the old boy was as hard-boiled as ever.)

So what happened to the Clegg bounce? Part of it was that so many of Clegg's supporters were young and unregistered voters (perhaps just as well given their subsequent disappointments). The other factor sniffed out by Boulton and Jones as they followed the politicians around is that the Lib Dems were subjected to a traditional pincer attack from the other two parties in the last days of the contest, each of them claiming that a vote for Clegg would let either Brown or Cameron in. (The fact that both couldn't be right didn't matter.)

As to whom Clegg did let in, David Laws, the Lib Dem MP for Yeovil, provides a compelling case that the only practical possibility was the Tories. Laws is a funny chap, and 22 Days in May is the first political testimony with quite so many references to the "rather dull sandwiches" provided by the civil service in the multi-party talks. What was evidently even less palatable to Laws was the Labour party's attitude to his party, which was about as patronising as everyone else in the media used to be towards Sky News. If, like me, you were half hoping for a "progressive coalition" of the Lib Dems and Labour, then you need to know who killed this dream: Ed "Tribal" Balls, who effectively sabotaged the talks. But in doing so, he saved the Lib Dems from having to choose between viable offers from both parties, which really would have split them down the middle.

Yet that leaves another mystery: an entirely fictional offer from Labour of electoral reform without having to bother with a referendum. This mysterious non-offer is denied by all concerned, and is absent from the Laws account, but somehow it so embedded itself in Cameron's mind that he used it to bounce his MPs into agreeing his deal with the Lib Dems for fear of a Lib-Lab pact. Clegg afterwards claimed that "it might have been an offer that might have been made and that might have been considered". Could our historic coalition be founded on a muddle? Might have been.

Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Top of the class: Iggy Azalea and the catchy ‘Fancy’
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue